Updated: Feb 6, 2022
By Melissa Kluczynski, M.S.
Sleep is essential for good health and helps the body function normally during the day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. However, as many as 1 in 3 Americans report that they do not get the recommended amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with many health problems, including hypertension (or high blood pressure). About 75 million Americans, or 1 in 3 adults, have hypertension.
How is Sleep Related to Blood Pressure?
Sleep helps to regulate hormones related to stress and metabolism, and not getting enough sleep can alter these hormones which can lead to hypertension and eventually heart disease and stroke. During normal sleep, blood pressure decreases by 10% to 20% (a.k.a. “blood pressure dipping”). Individuals who do not get enough sleep or who have a sleep disorder tend to have “nondipping” blood pressure (blood pressure that decreases less than 10% during sleep) which increases the risk for cardiovascular issues. A recent study by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that mild sleep disturbances including poor sleep quality, prolonged time to fall asleep, and insomnia were prevalent among adult women aged 20 to 79 years, and these sleep disturbances were associated with increased blood pressure and vascular inflammation (inflammation of the blood vessels).
Which Sleep-Related Factors Increase the Risk for Hypertension?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), short sleep duration, and shift work are risk factors for hypertension. OSA occurs when the airway gets blocked repeatedly during sleep and breathing stops for short amounts of time causing snoring and gasping during sleep.